How to find your ancestors in Vienna

IMG_8403

“Parterre in Schönbrunn” by Alois Greil (1841-1902) from the book “Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild”, Band Vienna, Vienna 1886, page 115

History of Vienna

Particularly in the second half of the 19th century, Vienna, then capital of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, was a fast-growing city. During this area, the city railway and the “Hochquellwasserleitung” (water pipeline from the Schneeberg mountain) were built.
While Vienna had 726,000 inhabitants in 1880, this number grew to 1,365,000 in 1890 through the incorporation of the suburban villages. In 1910 2,031,000 people were living in Vienna (1).
Additionally, many war fugitives came to Vienna during World War I.
Currently, Vienna has 1,841,000 inhabitants, by the way.

Due to this massive migration to the city, Vienna also becomes interesting for genealogists whose ancestors moved there.

Family Research Sources for Vienna

It is actually not so easy to find ancestors in Vienna. Therefore, I would like to introduce you to some useful sources and give you some tips.
Some of the links I provide in the following, are only available in German, but I will try to explain the functionality and hope, it can provide help to English-speaking researchers.

Address Book of Vienna: “Adolph Lehmann’s allgemeiner Wohnungs-Anzeiger”

The socalled „Lehmann“ („Adolph Lehmann’s allgemeiner Wohnungs-Anzeiger“) is a very good start for Viennese research. It is a directory of Vienna’s inhabitants which has been published annually in the years 1859 – 1942. The Lehmann directory has been digitised and is available online for free on the Homepage „Wienbibliothek Digital“ (follow this link).

The directory includes the head of the family (not wife or children), mostly with a profession. Servants, trade assistants and day laborers are not included.

Each annual book consists of several chapters which can be chosen in an online register. There are (among several others) directories of magistrates, companies, sights and newspapers. For genealogists, the directory of names (“Namenverzeichnis”) is surely the most important one.

Very often, there is also a street directory (“Straßenverzeichnis”), in which the responsible parish for the address is included.
For some years (e.g. 1925), there is also a directory of houses (“Häuserverzeichnis”). This is a directory of inhabitants sorted by address. Through this directory, you can establish who lived in a certain house, for example to find neighbors of your ancestors.

Functionality:
Here, you are at the right page to choose a year. Once, you have established the year, you will see a page, where you can choose the part of the directory (“Band”). As the content of books varies, try all available options, until you find, what you are looking for. The chapters written in bold script, are the important ones. Look for the clues: “Namenverzeichnis” – Directory of names
“Häuserverzeichnis” – Directory of houses
“Straßenverzeichnis” – Directory of streets
Subsequently, you can select a letter or an address to proceed.

Search for Deceased Persons by  Viennese Cementeries (“Friedhöfe Wien”)

The search for deceased persons of the Viennese cemeteries (follow this link) is available for currently existing graves and for graves that no longer exist and thus is a valuable source to find deceased ancestors.

This is the search form:

Fields:
– Name: Enter first and/or last name of the person you are looking for
– Friedhof (Cemetery): You can restrict your search for a specific cemetery, but do not
  have to
– Jahr der Bestattung (Year of burial): You can restrict the time frame you are looking for.
– Historische Grabsuche: Select “aktuell” for existing graves and “historisch” for graves
  that no longer exist.
– Suchen: Search / Neue Suche: New Search

The search result can contain very useful information as age, date of birth, and date of death (varies from record to record). Additionally, all other persons buried in the same grave are shown which are very probably relatives, wife, husband or children. However, it has to be noted, that for the historic search, other people buried in this grave do not necessarily have to be related, as they may have been buried there at a different time.

In any case, it is usually worth to try both searches – historic and current. There is also a map showing the exact location of the grave.

Population Cards Familysearch

Familysearch offers an interesting collection in its catalogue:
Austria, Vienna, Population Cards 1850-1896

The time period given might be confusing. The collection actually includes population cards as of approx. 1905, which have been issued for persons born before 1897.
The search result includes information on the date and place of birth, spouse/wife and district in which the person lived (no detailed address).
The original population cards are available in the Vienna Municipal and Provincial Archive. You can search the collection for free there. There is also a possibility to ask the Archive for the document and detailed address (see here for details). However, there is a fee charged by the archive for research: EUR 35 for every half hour.

Further Data Bases

The data bases of  genteam (free registration required) and of Familia Austria (partly free, partly tied to a membership) both give information on baptisms, marriages and deaths of Viennese inhabitants. At Familia Austria, the deceased persons whose death was published in the Viennese Newspaper have been collected. Those are also available at ANNO of the Austrian National Library through a search for the name.

Historic City Maps and Photos

There is a  Wien-Wiki which offers historic maps of Vienna.

There is also a street directory (“Liste topographischer Objekte“), where you can search for a street and get information, as e.g. responsible parish or special sights in the street.

In the Photo Gallery (“Bildergalerie“), there are several pictures of historic houses. If you are lucky, the house you are looking for is among them. If not, you at least get an idea, how an area in Vienna looked like in the past centuries.

There are also interesting historic maps at the Vienna Library Online (“Wienbibliothek digital).

Source:

(1) https://www.wien.gv.at/kultur/archiv/geschichte/ueberblick/stadtwachstum.html

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Land Registers and Family Research – Family Weihs in Sachsendorf, Austria

As entries in land registers offer a good insight into family history, I would like to write about this topic today.

Introduction of the land register in Austria

Maria Theresia started a first register of houses in 1770 (see also here) which was the predecessor of our modern land register. Land registers contain a lot of information on properties and their owners. Today, I would like to focus on the owners.

Documents at Familysearch

At Familysearch, there are many Austrian seigneurial records available online (free registration required). To get to the right records, use the menue “Search” and there “Catalogue”.  As location, enter “Austria”. You will get to a long list of different records, where you have to select “Court Records” and there you are:
Austria, seigniorial records = Österreich, Herrschaftsakten, 1537-1920

Family Weihs in Sachsendorf, Lower Austria

Using the example of the family Weihs of Sachsendorf (district Kirchberg am Wagram, Lower Austria), I would like to illustrate the support which a land register can offer for family research.

Mathias Weihs was my Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather. So far, I know that he was born in 1724 in Kollersdorf close to Sachsendorf and that he was married to Anna Maria Leuthner (widow of Stephan Kienast). I did not do much more research on his family yet (except for my direct ancestor, his son Paul).

Titel Grundbuch Sachsensdorf, NIederösterreich

Title page of the land register Sachsensdorf, Lower Austria, source citation see end of the blog post

Transcription and Translation: “Land register of the village of Sachsendorf of all properties with houses and all agricultural properties”

Through the above shown land register  („Haus-Überland-Grundbuch Amt Sachsendorf“) which is available online at Familysearch (Source citation see end of the blog post), I found out that Mathias Weihs owned several properties in Sachsendorf.
This was one of them:

 

Titel des Grundbucheintrages, Quellenangabe siehe Ende des Posts

Name/Title of the property, source citation see end of the blog post

Transkription and translation: “Von einem Bauernhaus, dareingehören 3 1/2 Joch Acker” – Of one farm house, including 3 1/2 Joch fields; Joch is an old square measure

From the entry in the land register, one can see the following chain of owners:

Besitzerkette Eintrag Grundbuch Sachsendorf, Quellenangabe siehe Ende des Posts

Owners in land register entry Sachsendorf, source citation see end of the blog post

Thus, the following persons were owners of the farm house:

  • Mathias Weihs and his wife Anna Maria („ux.“ is short for uxoris, wife) as of 1759
  • Franz Weihs, first unmarried as of 1788 and subsequently with his wife Elisabeth as of 1790 (from Sachsendorf, formerly written as Saxendorf)
  • Joseph Weihs, unmarried as of 1817 by acquisition (for 4,000 Gulden, the former Austrian currency, abbreviated as „fl.“)
  • Joseph Weihs und his wife Anna Maria as of 1817 by marriage
  • Johann Weihs, unmarried, living in the farm house- by acquisition in 1849 for 1,200 Gulden

All this information give a good overview and there are enough facts for a more detailed research. As mentioned in the illustration of the scope of the parish Kirchberg am Wagram at Matricula-online, the parish Kirchberg am Wagram includes Sachsendorf until 1784, afterwards, the parish Altenwörth includes the records for Sachsendorf (both are within the Arch-Dioceses of Vienna).

From research in the church books, I found out the following:

  • Mathias Weihs and Anna Maria Leuthner married on 22.7.1759 in Sachsendorf.
  • According to the land register, Franz Weihs married in 1790, which simplifies the search in the book of marriages of the parish Altenwörth:
 On 22.1.1790, Franz Weihs, son of Mathias Weihs and Anna Maria Leuthner married Elisabeth Nesterl. From the entry, one can also deduct the year of birth of Franz Weihs: He was 25 years of age at the time of the wedding, therefore he was born in 1765. It actually was on 27.5.1764, as the baptismal book of the parish Kirchberg am Wagram shows.
  • Joseph Weihs acquired the property from the couple Franz and Elisabeth Weihs (who by the way died in 1830 and 1828 respectively).
 Now it is getting more difficult, as the land register does not give information on the relationship between Joseph and Franz. Brother? Son? Nephew?
    As the next two entries in the land register have both been made in 1817, it can be assumed that it is for the same Joseph, who was married to a woman named Anna Maria in 1817. And there really is a wedding of Joseph Weihs and Anna Maria Entlang on 11.11.1817 in the church book. The church book gives us the information that Joseph was the son of Franz and Elisabeth Weihs and that he was born in 1791.
    By the way, this is the starting point for further research, as I have to try to find the purchase contract between Franz and Joseph. How could son Joseph afford to buy land for 4,000 Gulden which was quite some money at that time?
  • The next and last owner in the land register is Johann Weihs who also acquired the property. He was unmarried.
    During the time in question, there were three baptisms of boys named Johann Weihs. It is most probable that the right Johann is the son of Joseph and Anna Maria Weihs who was born on 15.8.1825. Any doubt can however only be eliminated through looking at the purchase contract.

Finally, I could establish the following facts with the support of the land register:

Ahnentafel Johann Weihs Kopie

Source Citation Familysearch – Land register:
“Österreich Herrschaftsakten 1537-1920,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9K9-BS3H?cc=1929847&wc=MYCG-BZQ%3A1062206102%2C1047408502%2C1062215703%2C1062215702%2C1062221701 : 20 May 2014), Österreich  \> Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) \> Kirchberg am Wagram \> Herrschaft Grafenegg mit Freihof Etsdorf \> image 13 of 200; Landesarchiv, Österreich (national archives, Austria).

Michael Stangerer, “Ship rider”

Today, I would like to introduce you to my 6times Great-Grandfather, Michael Stangerer. He lived in the 18th century and his profession was “Ship rider”. Until I wrote this post, I had no idea what a ship rider was doing. Now I know that he led an exhausting life.

Michael Stangerer was born on the 7th of May 1712 under the baptismal name Johann as son of Georg and Eva (maiden name unknown) Stangerer. They were living in Perg, Upper Austria, at the address “In den Judenleüthen”.

This address is derived from the term „jugent“ which means “Young Forrest”. “Leithen” is a slope. The address therefore describes a slope with a forrest.

On 22nd of September, aged 27, he married Rosalia Rüttner, the 45-year-old widow of Simon Büttner, an inhabitant of St.Johann close to Grafenwörth at the river Danube in Lower Austria.

(Translation: “here, Michael, currently ship rider in Stockerau, legitimate son of Georg Stangerer, dead, in the Judenleuthen from the parish of Perg and Eva his wife, living, with Rosalia, widow of Simon Rüttner, inhabitant of St.Johann”
Transcription in German: „allhier, Michael derzeit zu Stockerau ein SchiffReuther deß Georg Stangerer, sel. in den Judenleüthen auß der Pfarre Perg, Eva dessen Ehewirthin noch im Leben beider ehelich erzeugt hinterlasster Sohn mit Rosalia deß Simon Rüttner gewester Nachbar zu St. Johanns hinterlasstene Wittib“)

This marriage entry gives important information on Michael Stangerer: At the time of the marriage, Georg Stangerer, father of the groom, had died already. The profession of the groom is given as “ship rider” in the town of Stockerau in Lower Austria. The profession of the best men is also interesting: Gabriel Hann and Hans Walleneder were both boatmen in Stockerau.

By the way, some church books in the parish of Grafenwörth have a very informative idea, including all information of the entry, which makes working with these books very easy:

Sipping on the Danube in the 18th Century

Before the course of the river Danube was regulated, St. Johann was situated at the bank of the river and was a trans-shipment center for all kinds of goods and a resting place for boatmen.

Shipping on the Danube was the most important way to supply the fast growing City of Vienna with wood from the forrest of Bavaria and Bohemia. Also salt was transported frequently on the river.

However, the Danube was never as important as other European rivers as Rhine or Rhone for transportation purposes, as the Danube’s waters flow in the “wrong” direction, away from the trading centers in the West and the North of Europe.

Ships going upstream were tied together and were pulled by horses (up to 60, depending on the size of the ships) which were going on the path beside the river, the “Treppelwege”. The whole process was called “Treideln”.

The chain of ships was built according to a certain scheme, the biggest ship being first in line. After that, smaller ships followed. The chain of ships was accompanied by smaller dinghies.

There were ropes with a length of about 80 meters tied to the mast of the ships. The steersmen had to try to keep the ships away from the banks of the river. In that manner, ships were moving slowly and could only make 4-6 hours per day.

So, what exactly does a ship rider do? The ship rider was the person riding on the horses which were pulling the ships, directing the horses on the path beside the river. Mostly, they were sitting sideways on wooden saddles, thus keeping an eye on the ship and the rope.

Bild: Alois Greil in Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild, Band Oberösterreich, Wien 1889

Picture: Alois Greil in Die österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild, Band Oberösterreich, published in Vienna in 1889

By the way, in 1812 the first steamboat started its operations in Vienna, through which the profession of ship rider lost importance.

Coming back to my ancestor: Through the mentioned marriage, Michael Stangerer no longer had to accompany the ships. His wife obviously has inherited a house in St.Johann from her late first husband. Thus, Michael Stangerer subsequently became an inhabitant of St.Johann and stayed there.

 

He married there four times and had seven children, two of whom died in infancy.

(Translation: Geburt=Birth, Heirat=Marriage, Tod=Death)

On 24th of October 1790, Michael Stangerer died from a lung disease at the age of 78 as widower at the address St.Johann No. 10.

Sources (in German):

What was our ancestor’s cause of death?

What was our ancestor’s cause of death?

This is the start of yet another new series of posts which covers the cause of death in earlier times. The list of causes of death in church books is long and there are many terms and names of diseases which need explaining today. Beside the historic diseases, there are individual accidents, epidemics or other tragedies.

Senility

Today, I start the series with a cause of death which “fortunately” can be found quite often in my family tree, death of old age, senility. In church books, the term “Marasmus senilis” is also used which stands for the decay of body and intellect through age.

As of what age was someone “old”? What was the expected life span in previous centuries?

This table shows the life span for men (in grey) and women (in red) at the age of 60 years in the course of time and thus does not take the high death rate of newborns and children into account. While expectancy for men and women in 1868 was little above 70 years, it is approximately 10-15 years more today. As you can read on Wien.at, in 1856, only 0.7% were elder than 75 years.

I cannot give you a serious statistical analysis of my family tree research, thus I will just give you some special examples of ancestors who reached a high age and died of senility:

  • I already introduced you to Leopoldine Hetzendorfer (born Hofbauer) in another post. She died after an exciting life aged 88 in the year 1943. Her daughter Walburga even was 91 years when she died.
  • Veit Putschögel was born in 1707 and reached an then almost incredible age of 90 years.
  • Mathias Schindl was 88 when he died in the year 1829 due to senility.
    (Transcript/Translation: Name of the deceased: Mathias Schindl, “Ausnehmer”meaning basically a person living at the farm of their children/ religion: catholic, Sex: male, age: 88 years/Illness, Cause of death: of senility)

  • Magdalena Petz (born Weinmayr) died in 1888 aged 86.
    (Transcript/Translation: Petz Magdalena, born, Weinmayer, born in Paasdorf, widow, here, age 86 years, senility according to certification of death no. 7)

  • Katharina Schmölz was 95 when she died in 1950.Bildschirmfoto 2017-03-30 um 18.56.42

What age did your ancestors reach? Did you discover unusual causes of death in your research?

Joseph Prankl, Blacksmith in Gaming, Lower Austria

Gaming is a village close to the mountain Ötscher in Mostviertel in Lower Austria and is situated on the Iron Trail. The Iron Trail has been an important site for the production and processing of iron since the 16th century. Subsequently, grand forges, but also many smaller hammer mills were built in the area.

Due to the Napoleonic Wars, the region was cut off from trade and from new technologies and could no longer compete with other areas with better infrastructure.

My ancestor Joseph Prankl, was a blacksmith for horseshoes and nails who settled in Gaming. He was married to Anna Maria (nee Eder) from Purgstall. The couple had 16 children. At least five of whom did not survive infancy. The children were born in the time period between 1795 and 1814 in Gaming.

The Viennese newspaper “Wiener Zeitung” published the following article in May 1813 about Joseph Prankl:

In this article, the foreclosure sale of the house of Joseph Prankl with the address Hofstadt in der Au no.7 which he has only built two years before was announced.

The house is described in detail: There were two rooms on the ground floor, a spacious kitchen, a pantry and a cellar. On the first floor, there were seven rooms and a kitchen. There was also a stable for two horses, three cows and a big barn.
Close to the house was the smithy.

Joseph Prankl tried to succeed as blacksmith in Gaming, but it was right at the time of economic downturn of the region. He seems to have overextended himself on the new house and could not repay his liabilities.

So far, I could not find out, where Joseph Prankl came from, nor where he and his family went after the foreclosure.  A brick wall, I still have to overcome!

I do know that two of his sons settled in Gresten, a village nearby and were blacksmiths there.